Vilnius Antakalnis cemetery will no longer have memorial for Soviet soldiers

The capital’s Antakalnis cemetery will no longer have a memorial to Soviet soldiers – this was approved by the City Council today.

The change in the criteria for the assessment of immovable cultural property at the end of April created the conditions for the abolition of legal protection for objects, such as sculptures, inscriptions or other symbols promoting the activities of the Nazi German or USSR army or other special services or their members of these states that carried out repressions of the Lithuanian population.

“There will be nothing left in the Antakalnis cemetery that is not related to honoring the dead, but only conveying Soviet propaganda,” said Vilnius City Mayor Remigijus Šimašius. “The Soviets tried turning the squares of cities into cemeteries and cemeteries into ideological complexes. We are not going to disturb the burial places and tombstones in any way, but the memorial itself is a militaristic monster that is not suitable for a cemetery, so it will be removed from there.“

The Department of Cultural Heritage (under the Ministry of Culture) this Monday revised the Act of the Council for the Evaluation of the Graves of Soviet Soldiers of the Second World War, removing 6 figurative stelae depicting Soviet soldiers from its description of valuable properties. Until then, the complex “Graves of the Soviet Union soldiers in the World War II” had a regional level of significance, it was considered a memorial, so it was necessary to change the legal regulation in order to be able to remove the sculptures.

The monument will be removed while also trying not to damage it – either by individual stelae or their segments. However, after evaluating everything, we plan to complete the work by the end of this summer.

The removal of the stelae will be organised as soon as the stelae states are transferred to the ownership of Vilnius City Municipality from the State in accordance with the procedure established by the legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania. The high value of the works is expected to necessitate an international tender for the works, while the procurement and removal process itself may take several months. The location of the monuments after the removal – whether in a museum or elsewhere – remains to be determined, but it is clear that they will no longer be in the public space of the capital.

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